Xiaomi has spun off its popular POCO sub-brand into an independent brand in its own right.

The experimental sub-brand was created in 2018 and brought us one of the best-value Android experiences in the form of the POCO F1. The sub-$300 smartphone was extremely popular across the globe, thanks to flagship specs and reasonably solid experience. However, it had some issues and limitations that prevented us from fully recommending it.

Separating from the Xiaomi mainline will allow the next device — the rumored F2 — to compete directly with the likes of OnePlus and Samsung. With just one product released under the POCO branding already, this move likely gives the firm an opportunity to grow as an independent challenger in a similar manner to OnePlus.

In a statement on Twitter, Manu Kumar Jain, VP of Xiaomi, said: “POCO F1 is an extremely popular phone across user groups, and remains a top contender in its category even in 2020. We feel the time is right to let POCO operate on its own now, which is why we’re excited to announce that POCO will spin off as an independent brand.”

Of course, this move does give some credence to the recent POCO F2 rumors. We could potentially see the follow-up in the coming months as the brand starts ramping up ahead of a launch event. The budget flagship segment has changed quite dramatically in the 20 months since the POCO F1 was released. There is far more competition within the affordable smartphone space.

The next-generation POCO will have to compete directly with Xiaomi’s own affordable flagship devices. Just how they differentiate themselves this time around is anyone’s guess.

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Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email: damien@9to5mac.com